This month, I feel like these roads look.
I’ve been recovering, like a good patient, with minimal activity. And it kills me.
I’m thrilled this site has a “Cycling and Adventure” theme to it. It’s a hot poker, forcing me to get up off my rear end every week to find new and exciting things to talk about. Snowstorms, hurricanes, long weekends, sub-zero windchill events — these are my bread and butter! However, once every year or so, I have to turn myself back down to my pre-enlightenment days to recover from surgery. I’ve had five of them, as of last month. As you can imagine, returning to a life of inactivity is a considerable departure… and isn’t much fun.
In 2007, when I was 17, I was diagnosed with a cavernous veinous malformation in my right foot. In layman’s terms, it’s a vein malformation (the medical term is “tumor,” but it’s non-cancerous) in my right foot that swells with blood and hurts a ton. The malformation halted the growth in my right foot, so my feet are different sizes, and all my tarsals are messed up, too. I’m a podiatrist’s worst nightmare. After I hit my teens, I couldn’t walk further than a mile and I couldn’t run, hike, or bike; I was essentially sedentary by force.
It took two years just to find a specialist that could identify what was wrong with my right foot. The strange blue lump was diagnosed as a cyst three times, which it wasn’t. After a lot of false hope, I hit the jackpot with the best surgeon in the United States at my fingertips; Dr. Robert Rosen at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City is one of only two or three specialists in this type of malformation in the entire country. After wandering from doctor to doctor for two years looking for answers, we heard “Yeah, I see 300 of these a year.” He’s no-nonsense, slightly sarcastic, and beyond dedicated to my quality of life. In fact, I can say without hesitance that he saved it.
In 2012, after two surgeries, I hiked for the first time in my adult life. Mt. Moosilauke, the double black diamond side, in February, with snowshoes. I couldn’t kick the crampons into the ice, since it still hurt too much, so I hiked it with my left foot and my hands. And it was euphoric, one of the best hikes of my life.
I was so hooked. I started biking more seriously. I was 22 years old, and I felt like I had just been given the ability to walk. I met Jim and Max, and the three of us biked 1,500 miles across the Northeast, and the rest is history. Over the next year, I planned and executed ten trips with my college’s outdoors club, and I learned as much as I could about camping through hundreds of nights spent outdoors. I started participating in backpacking forums online, plumbing the boy scouts and ex-military retirees for wisdom, anecdotes, advice, and critique.
In 2014, I started running. I had a good six months of good running time before I had to have surgery again, #4. I recovered from that last summer, and now I’ve got one more (hopefully final) surgery under my belt. I did 15 miles in one run in February 2014 and was on crutches again in April of the same year. I’ve been trying to get back there since, but I have yet to do more than three or four miles at a stretch.
This year, I had my #5 and I spent march sitting on a couch. No blog posts, no adventures, no camping. I haven’t slept outside since February. But, it’s worth it. Once you get a taste of an untethered life, it’s all you can think about. I’m planning a thru hike, a bike tour, and I’m putting a whole host of new gear through the wringer. Max, The Cyclist will ride again!